Fasting has been associated with the religious practice for a long time. That is, if you fast, then you are religious! There is nothing religious about fasting actually! It helps to regulate the body to start with. Fasting makes the cells alive by denying them the nutrients first. The cells actually crave nutrients expectantly waiting for it. Because of this waiting, this openness to receive, this open acceptance of emptiness with anticipation makes the cells more alert… as a result, you become more alert!
Types of fasting
There are different methods of fasting. Some people avoid food altogether for the day, only consuming liquids. Some take only fruits, milk and salads. I prefer to have fruits for breakfast, lunch and dinner with oats milk or buttermilk. No cooked food such as rice, roti or curries and sabzhi. However,lots of water and fluids need to be taken compulsorily. One could have a all fruit diet on the days of fasting or salads and vegetables, cereals, cornflakes, porridge and fruit juices. Any of these except the regular intake like rice, roti and cooked food would make the day a fasting day.
When you start fasting, initially, you will have to face many issues like, headaches, irritability, a feeling of being lost… for a while. It is because the mind is controlling your body, mind says you are hungry and you need to eat now. By switching to your body and listening to it totally, the mind will become quiet.
The body is more intelligent, more intuitive whereas the mind is only a tyrant! It makes your life more miserable, always asking for something which is not with you! If you have money, it will demand fame, if you have fame also, it will demand quite something else! Since I have neither, I don’t want to dwell on the demands of the mind when you have both money and fame!
Okay coming back to mind that wants to control your behavior, thoughts and actions-The mind keeps telling you that you will lose weight, you will get headaches and so many other things, all true to some extent but really not true if you listen to your body on the days of fasting.
But after a while, with experience gained by fasting, you will not face these irritants. You will slowly move out of the grip of the mind and move into the comforts of your body which knows better.
Benefits of fasting
On the days of fasting, all your senses will be fine tuned. Your sense of hearing and listening improves, taste buds more open but it needs to wait until the next day! Eye sight improves, body is more alive and alert. Above all, your olfactory nerves-the sense of smell improves by leaps and bounds! How could you smell the wafting aroma from the bakery and hotels while driving by bike? Even the oil in which it is fried can be smelled!
Normally our sensitivity of our five senses especially the sense of smelling takes a back seat. Your food comes to your plate no matter what! who is bothered about smelling it? Eat, drink, run, hurry up, hurry up, hurry up…for what?
Once you are seasoned in fasting, you will get to enjoy the benefits of fasting. Your body becomes more light and you will become very energetic. Actually, the very next day of fasting, when you get up from your sleep, you will feel very light-hearted. When you taste the first sip of green tea, it will be like being in heaven. Everything that you taste on the day will be different with a new taste!
It is like being born again! You will also become more aware of what you are eating, relishing every morsel of what you are eating! Your five senses become more alive, life will be more beautiful! The grass is greener, the sky is more blue! What happened? Instead of eating and living mechanically, you will become more aware with alertness. Isn’t that called meditation?
If you know Tamil, there is a beautiful PDF that you could read here.Ekadashi
from Viswa Yoga Kendra, Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu.